Most people come to the Outer Banks to relax and vacation, however that was not on the agenda for the 57 students and coaches that traveled to Roanoke Island for Blue Heron Bowl this past weekend. The Blue Heron Bowl, a regional event for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), was held this year on February 1 at the Coastal Studies Institute on the ECU Outer Banks Campus. The host of the Blue Heron Bowl rotates locations, and this was ECU’s first time hosting since 2011. The NOSB and each of its 25 regional bowls are trivia-style tournaments for teams made up of four or five high school students. Topics covered during the tournament include marine biology, chemistry, oceanography, and social sciences.

Ten teams, made up of nine from North Carolina and one from Tennessee, from seven schools (Eugene Ashley, Currituck County, Dobyns Bennett, Manteo, NC School of Science and Math, Raleigh Charter School, and Walter Williams) competed in the 2020 Blue Heron Bowl. They arrived Friday night for a welcome reception at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, where they dined next to sharks and listened to a keynote speech focused on coastal resiliency given by Dr. Reide Corbett, Dean of Integrated Coastal Programs at ECU and the Executive Director of the Coastal Studies Institute. After dinner and the keynote, the teams were able to tour the aquarium before heading back to the hotels to get some well-deserved rest or to cram in just a few more minutes of studying before the big day.

On Saturday morning, CSI was filled with over 60 volunteers from the coastal NC community who greeted the teams and served as various game officials for the competition. The morning started with two rounds of round-robin matches and based on the scores of those games, each team was seeded for the double-elimination tournament. Throughout the morning, each team was able to play at least four matches before being eliminated. As the day progressed, teams were knocked out of the tournament and each of the matches following came with higher stakes. The Blue Heron Bowl Champion would earn a spot at the national competition later this spring in Long Beach, Mississippi, and the second-place team and team with the best sportsmanship would also take home prizes.

First place team Raleigh Charter (A), and second-place team, the North Carolina School of Science and Math, were clear front runners early on in the tournament.  Currituck high school, a new team to the Blue Heron Bowl, was a team that surprised everyone. As a first-year team, they weren’t exactly sure what to expect and had a rocky start. However, by the end of the day, they finished in third place. Their perseverance, zest, and kindness to all were admirable to the volunteers, coaches, and teams, and thus they received the Sportsmanship Award.

A fun day was had by all, and ECU and CSI would like to extend great thanks to all who made it a successful event. The 2020 Blue Heron Bowl would not have been possible without the planning team, volunteers, and our local sponsors who provided venues, food, prizes, and accommodations. Everyone’s participation in the event is so appreciated. To learn more about the 2020 Blue Heron Bowl, watch the short video found below.

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


ECU’s Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU’s Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.




The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


Contact Us

Contact Info

The Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345
Wanchese, NC 27981


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